Financial Management

Design-Build Procurement to Shape Future
Of Construction for City of New York: DDC


In an effort to increase efficiency and reduce complexity in the construction process, the recently appointed Associate Commissioner of Alternative Delivery for New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, Alison Landry, has committed to exploring alternatives to the traditional processes for design-bid-build projects for the City.

Ms. Landry has indicated that alternative projects such as the new Design-Build initiative (DB) will modernize the way projects are delivered as one of the foundational steps in the future of construction for NYC DDC.


Numerous agencies in other states have adopted new alternative delivery methods, and Ms. Landry aims to elevate standards here in Gotham too. Here’s why: D–B Greatly Reduces the Contract Complexities Of Separate Design, Construction Bid Awards D-B is significantly distinct compared to New York City’s more traditional method of awarding separate design and construction contracts to the lowest responsible bidder. In the new process, a single source, which may be one or more firms, will assume responsibility for the execution of the entire project. In this way, the designer and builder will be on the same team vs. fielding multiple other contractors throughout. This ensures there is close-knit teamwork from the beginning that clearly defines the project, the schedule and contract’s monetary value in the early stage of the project. Construction risks for all parties, including both the city and designer-contractor, should hopefully be reduced as a result.

Officials hope that D-B will deliver more efficiently on New York City’s increasingly complex and essential public projects. With the competition and complexity of design- bid-build out of the way in terms of looking for the lowest bidder, contractors will be able to move along much more efficiently with fewer hurdles in the way. The goal is a high-quality design created by a team that will coordinate every step of the way throughout the design and construction process. In many cases, collaboration will replace bureaucratic processes and log jams. Through this process, the construction of public buildings and infrastructure should become more easily executable and cost-sensitive.

D-B Will Result in More-Timely, Cost-Effective Project Completions

The first D-B project by the DDC was initiated in Kew Gardens, Queens, where a new garage and community space is being constructed next to the site of a new jail. It has been surmised that the project completion time will be reduced by three years versus the time frame required by older methods in the city’s traditional design-bid-build process.

Another clear example demonstrating the success of the new program is in the new Parks Operations Center where it is projected that contractors of this project will also save at least three years in time to completion. Ultimately, the D-B process will encompass multiple projects, including new libraries, fire stations, and maintenance facilities, among others. Acceleration of public works such as water, sewer, and road projects will also be a product of new construction that is increasingly reliant on D-B as the vehicle for more timely and cost-effective completions for critical public needs.

Adopting new ways of doing things became a priority throughout the pandemic, where the construction industry was forced to rise above the challenges and become more agile. The challenges were many, including everything from labor, materials procurement processes, as well as the integration of technologies with potential to impact every aspect of the building process. Today, embracing new ways of doing things continues to secure overall improvement of project coordination and efficiency. D-B is now here as a new and better way that construction contractors can embrace. FMI projected that design-build will post a 7.6%-annual growth rate from 2021 to 2025. FMI envisions 34% total growth in D-B construction spending over that time frame.

NYC is Now Poised to Benefit Immensely From New Alternative Project Methods

D-B today is set to drive change. Today, post-pandemic, the use and growth of new technologies for construction firms, such as construction management software and BIM, are accelerating and will act to undergird the benefits of the collaborative approach to the D-B and other alternative delivery methods have to offer.

In this way, the delivery of complex capital projects in the city will become much more efficient versus the lengthy conception to completion times the city is known for. Whereas New York strictly adhered to older traditional models, the city is now poised to benefit from new alternative project methods. Unique urban challenges and obstacles related to logistics, space constraints and coordination with other projects have been prohibitive to a degree in an overwhelmingly densely populated city. Overcoming reliance on older methods will be a large step and an improvement on the real estate capital of the world where building and construction are the foundation of the city’s prosperity. Overall, the DDC is committed to excellence in prioritizing strategies that value the use of public funds for capital projects.

About the author: Phillip Ross, CPA, CGMA is an Accounting and Audit Partner and Chair of the Construction Industry Group at Anchin, Block & Anchin, LLP. For more construction industry thought l

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